Mr. Octagon takes a look at the monumental year in UFC and previews Fight Night 104, taking place this Saturday in the 2017 Super City of Houston, Texas.
2016 was the most successful year in the history of the UFC, and there’s plenty of good reasons for that. A lot of big things happened, bolstering controversy, interest, and headlines. Most of all, taking a once fledgling sport, well into the mainstream of today’s sporting landscape.
Conor McGregor – Became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles simultaneously. Shortly after capturing his second title, he was stripped of his first for lack of a title defense. But that didn’t matter, as his popularity remains unaffected. With Conor holding out to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match, and the two fighters to be mentioned below possibly not fighting again, the UFC is in desperate need of star power in 2017.
Ronda Rousey – She returned for one fight in 2016, and got destroyed in just 48-seconds by Amanda Nunes after her media boycott. The future is up in the air, but she looks like a shell of her once self.
Brock Lesnar – The out of nowhere return at UFC200 saved the card after Conor was kicked off for not fulfilling media duties, and Jon Jones was suspended for a failed drug test. This was one of the best kept secrets in MMA, as it leaked only hours before the official announcement from the UFC. Following the fight, Brock failed his drug test and his win over Mark Hunt was overturned to a no contest.
Other major stories in 2016 include;
*Zuffa sells UFC to WME-IMG for over $4 billion dollars.
*USADA crackdown resulting in a large number of failed drug tests. Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar being the two biggest as mentioned above.
*Michael Bisping, late into his storied career, becomes a UFC champion defying the odds and knocking out Luke Rockhold.
*The Fertitta brothers, Joe Silva, and Mike Goldberg, are all gone from the UFC for various reasons. All had their own contribution to the UFC in different ways, and their departures will make the UFC very different in 2017.
It was a very exciting year in and out of The Octagon but the new UFC ownership has its work cut out for them to make good on their investment. Looking into what 2017 will hold, it seems impossible for it to live up to the successes of 2016. However, MMA is as unpredictable as it comes, and nothing will surprise me. One thing’s for sure, The Fertitta regime was genius in bringing the sport to where it is now. 4-billion dollars genius. As they turn the page onto their next project, whatever it may be, what becomes of The UFC remains to be seen.
UFC Fight Night 104 from Houston, Texas is on FS1 and is the day before the Super Bowl. The card is not stacked with big name talent, but it promises to have exciting fights based on the match ups.
Chang Sung Jung vs Dennis Bermudez – The biggest story here is the return of the Korean Zombie from his mandatory military participation in Korea. A former title challenger, and all action fighter draws Bermudez in his return. Bermudez will be the better athlete, and obviously won’t have ring rust that may affect Jung, but Jung holds the advantage on the feet. I think Bermudez can use his wrestling and top control to overwhelm Jung in his return. Bermudez wins as a -175 favorite.
Alexa Grasso vs Felice Herrig – The highly touted Grasso gets her toughest test to date in grizzled veteran, Felice Herrig. Grasso is a very well rounded fighter, who is being groomed to be the next big thing at 115lbs. Felice brings all world experience, but has faltered in big spots before, and the co main event on this card is another big spot for her. Can her experience get her hand raised, or will the -290 favorite Grasso get her hand raised, and into a number one contender fight? Grasso wins by decision.
Abel Trujillo vs James Vick – This is a pick ’em fight with both fighters very willing to stand and trade punches. Vick comes in off his first career loss, which happened to be by KO and I wonder if that will make him hesitant against a guy with Trujillo’s striking power. If he’s hesitant, and has the KO loss in the back of his mind, I think Trujillo can take advantage. If Vick uses his length, and is his same aggressive self, he can tire out Trujillo and win the fight in the second round. Either way, this pick ’em fight is a contender for bout of the night.
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